I wouldn’t blame you if you were unaware that former president Donald Trump was indicted for a third time on Tuesday and arraigned on Thursday.
It’s difficult to tell if Americans understood the gravity of this specific accusation or if Trump appearing in court has simply become commonplace despite making history as the first former US president to ever be charged with a crime, let alone in three different charges.
Trump was charged on Thursday with attempting to tamper with the results of the 2020 election. The accusations followed two prior indictments. Trump was charged with falsifying company documents in a March indictment. He was accused in June for how he handled sensitive documents after leaving the White House. In all three cases, he has entered a not-guilty plea.
Even though this time it included something the public may have been more likely to care about given the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, it felt familiar when the news of Trump’s newest charge surfaced this week.
Trump is facing significant new allegations, including conspiracy to defraud the US and conspiracy to hinder an official investigation, which could result in a lengthy jail term.
Even though the first indictment against Trump in Manhattan in April may have been the weakest of the cases presented against him, it felt like much more of a show. Perhaps the presence of the NYPD, the cameras in the courthouse, and the highly visible arrival and leave from the court contributed to this.
The most recent indictment and arrest, though, felt mostly routine in comparison to Trump’s two impeachments and the made-for-TV Capitol riot hearings, which all accused him of grave malfeasance.
And the reason why is that it was, in large part. Trump received the same treatment as any other accused criminal. He appeared in court, had his rights read to him, entered a plea, and the judge spoke with him.
However, in this instance, he is a former president accused of attempting to sway an unfavourable election result.
Trump might have wanted to create a spectacle. His lawyer John Lauro told CNN earlier this week that he could have appeared virtually, but instead he showed up in person. CNN noted that the number of supporters present at the DC courthouse was lower than in other locations.
Even Trump’s customary flare was missing, though. He blasted the allegations on Truth Social, as he had done with the previous indictments, and claimed that the Biden administration had turned the Justice Department against him. But unlike the first two indictments, he entered and exited the courthouse unnoticed, and he treated his most recent arraignment with much less ceremony.
Trump organised gatherings for some of his followers and members of the media after both arraignments earlier this year, during which he delivered vehement remarks decrying the allegations. This time, Trump chose to forego holding such an event and instead had a quick press conference while standing in the rain on a tarmac and refusing to take questions.
Although The New York Times, CNN, and Fox News reported the story first, it was acknowledged that the actual arraignment process was rather routine.
Reporter Charlie Savage of The New York Times provided live coverage of the arraignment and provided updates that highlighted unimportant details like Trump’s attorney yawning and Trump picking up a piece of paper to discuss with his attorney. He described his own update as “a reporter trying to come up with yet another descriptive way to convey that nothing is happening yet.”
While this was happening, Fox News correspondents focused on the fact that this had happened three times already this year. The anchor, Martha MacCallum, observed that it was “pretty striking that, I think, Americans have sort of grown numb to watching the former president go through this process.” “I never thought I would see that,”
The arraignment was described as “historic” by Fox News legal analyst Andrew McCarthy, who also said, “We’re becoming numb to it because it’s the third time we’ve been through this, so it’s almost become rote.”
Except for the fact that CNN commentators recognised it was a former president being accused, even CNN’s live TV coverage tried to make the arraignment appear thrilling, mentioning multiple times how “mundane” it all felt.
According to polling conducted prior to the most recent indictment, the GOP base that may vote for or against Trump in the presidential primary next year wouldn’t give a damn either way. In a Monmouth University poll conducted in July, 72% of registered Republicans said that they were not concerned about how the indictments against Trump will affect his prospects of defeating President Joe Biden in the general election.
And even while for some people this may have become usual, there may be more charges to come. Regarding the 2020 election, a grand jury in Georgia will consider whether to indict Trump. We still have three trials to go through if they don’t.